I’m a small game hunter, specifically rabbits.
I made a decision not to attend the first meeting in Montgomery on 1 March 2014, nor any others. There was really no reason to. Everybody knows that the CAB (Alabama Conservation Advisory Board) will extend deer season into February for the southern half of Alabama and eventually to the entire state.
While I was still planning on attending, I thought long and hard about what I would say opposing the extension of deer season into February.
Then I realized that there nothing I could say that would make the slightest difference.
It would end most small game hunting in Alabama? You already know this and it will make no difference whatsoever to you.
You don’t know the full impact on the deer herd? The only thing I have seen is a study to see where and when it would benefit tree sitters the most to move the season into February.
The preliminary study you provided raised all manner of possible problems including the detrimental impact on large bucks. These are problems that I have yet to have seen addressed beyond the desires of the deer hunters.
The letter presented to the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board meeting 12 March 2011, “Potential consequences of extending deer season into February” by Stephen S. Ditchkoff, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University is here The letter says that an extension of deer season into February will have a negative impact on the deer herd in terms of quality. That alone should have ended the debate
“Impact on small game hunters” This is self obvious in that small game hunting would pretty much end in the state of Alabama. Most land is private and the small game hunters can’t compete with the high prices that deer hunters are willing to pay.
Some say that the reason is that what the deer hunters want, they get from the CAB and Goat Hill.
And that is partially true.
Some on this board have ties to high wire operations, businesses connected to deer hunting and hunting plantations.
In a effort to be fair to the dog hunters, the proposal is to give back the days lost at the end of January. I used to hunt rabbits on some of these dog hunter’s property. That gave me roughly 45 days to hunt rabbits each year. By giving back to the dog hunters, you eliminate those extra days.
Even the days that OutDoors Alabama is touting as closed in December to make up for the days extended into February, is a lie. As soon as it was announced, the decision was made to allow deer hunting with compound bows and inline black powder. None exactly primitive weapons. And not exactly closed.
Another example is baiting. Each year deer hunters put out tons of corn. It’s sold in most stores in handy camouflaged bags. I’ve seen the Florida tags at a local feed and seed filling 55 gallon drums on trailers with their ATVs. But the only response from this board is not to crack down, but to legalize baiting. Some hunters I know tell me that they are glad that baiting with certain restrictions will be legalized, but they’ll continue to hunt over corn.
Deer hunting is not about fair chase anymore. Being able to penetrate those keen eyes, nose, hearing and instinct. Instead it is about giving the hunter every advantage over their quarry; cameras, low light scopes, scent blockers, bait, technological advance weapons (cross bows, compound bows, inline black powder, shooting houses over green fields, ect). And coming soon “drones”. It is about killing horns the easiest way possible, like shooting a cow in a feed lot. But I don’t really believe that this is about giving the deer hunters what they want. Although it is, partially.
Some would say that it is a matter of politics.
And I agree somewhat with that. I know that there are politicians on Goat Hill that would use their position and power to influence matters that should be beyond political influence for their own personal benefit. There is no doubt in my mind that some would attempt to influence where the line is drawn so that their or their families lease was included. My disdain for politicians knows no limits. But I don’t really believe that this is about giving politicians what they want. Although it is, partially.
There is a old saying “follow the money”. And I suspect that drives the move into February more than any other since it is the deer hunters money that ultimately has the most influence.
When I’m forced out by the CAB and the deer hunters, My vet loses roughly a $1000 a year. The local gas stations lose the multi tanks of gas I burn each year hunting different areas in Alabama. The hunting supplies I consume each year, chaps, briar britches, boots, shirts, vests, ammunition, dog food, dog collars, pine shavings, hats, snacks, on and on will be lost to the state of Alabama and its merchants. If I decide to hunt in nearby Georgia, I’ll make sure I buy from the area where I am appreciated as a small game hunter.
I read a quote by N. Gunter Guy Jr., Alabama’s Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)
“The thing is our deer season ends after everybody else’s, and we should take advantage of that to bring in money from out of state. I think we do some of that already, but we really need to let these deer hunters know that when their season ends, ours is open the whole month of January. And we have nice, liberal limits because we have a lot of deer.”
Our Alabama hunters need to think about what Commissioner Guy said, though most of them can’t look past the thought that they can hunt in February and eventually get rid of the “sort of” shut down in December.
The last thing “we” (all Alabama hunters) need is a marketing tool for the state to bring in even more hunters from out of state to increase the revenue for the state and the landowners.
Remember that wildlife is the property of Alabamians, not the landowner, not the lease holder and not the State. The State is merely the custodian for the people
Ultimately, hunting will only be for the privileged and the connected. The move of deer hunting into February will speed up the process. Governor Governor Robert Bentley, his political appointees and this Board will share a large portion of the blame.